Last Thursday six of us got together for an impromptu tasting and dinner
at Marra's in
Ridgewood New Jersey. Having just attended another tasting two nights before, I felt
that it was good time to do another tasting two days later. So, I proceed to ask Steve
Manzi if he wanted to do another tasting featuring the '98 Burge Reserve that I would
generously ante up. Naturally, for a taste of the '98 Burge Reserve, he said yes. Next, I
invite Rich Byrne and then dupe him into bringing a '97 Bryant Family. Actually it wasn't
that difficult and besides that, neither of us has sampled this vintage of Bryant Family.
Finally, I knew with the Bryant and the Burge Reserve on the table that Steve Levy
would be an easy mark. He was! Showboat Steve showed up with a '91 Grange in hand
which I might add fit in nicely.
We were not only celebrating my upcoming birthday on Sunday but also the
of Steve Levy's "mega" wine cellar. Although Steve's cellar is up and running, not a
single bottle of wine has made it from his basement to the newly completed cellar. Ya
see showboat Steve has a renowned reputation for buying new homes and putting in
impressive wine cellars, only to turn around and upgrade to a much bigger home in short
order. So, it certainly didn't surprise me at all when Steve mentioned that he might be
moving to a larger abode in the very near future. Actually, I've seen this act before…but
never before moving his wines into his cellar first.
Lets see we started with a couple of cabernets and then moved to four Shiraz
Except for a bottle of '98 Dutschke "Oscar Semmler" Shiraz that had been decanted
hours before, none of the other wines were opened in advance of our arrival. Further,
some of the wines were served at room temperature, which was a tad to warm for my
palate. To my notes.
'97 Karl Lawrence- Dark color or ink
and oil. Huge bouquet of bittersweet chocolate,
blackberry and cedar. Saturated ink like color. The deeply scented bouquet suggests
ripe red and black fruits and smoky oak like aromas. Add to that a medium concentration
and ripe tannins with a long lingering finish. While it doesn't carry the weight or finish as
well as some of the other "big boys", it is certainly has a lot going for it. My second
tasting note, Score it "94".
'97 Bryant Family- Unquestionably the
top dog in this tasting! Although the '91 Grange
and '98 Burge Reserve were also very much in the hunt. The wine showed a saturated
purple and deep ink like color. On the palate, the highly extracted well endowed wine
shows remarkable concentration and impeccable balance. The wine is literally oozing
with hedonistic richness. Highly concentrated "seamless" flavors and superb balance
make this my favorite of the evening. The binger of this wine kept saying that it tasted
like velvet and the purity of fruit and flavor profile were unreal. Well, I have to agree
with Rich Byrne on this one. My first tasting note and reminiscent of the great '95
Bryant Family, score it "100".
'98 Henry's Drive Shiraz- showing a
very dark ruby, almost purple color. Out of the
gate, the '98 Henry's Drive Shiraz was a hit from the opening whiff to the closing sip.
The bouquet was singing with fragrances of deep black currants and ripe Blackberry
scented fruit and just a hint of anise. Palate mirrored the nose and is just bursting with
succulent core fruit flavors suggesting licorice, tar, heavy toast and vanilla bean. Add
to that a fat sweetness to it's taste that was, for the lack of a better term, a "sensory
overload"! The wine also finishes very well and should drink effortlessly over the next
five to seven years or so. My ninth tasting note, score it "93+"
'98 Dutschke "Oscar Semmler"- deep tar and ink like color. Opens
with a restrained
nose suggesting road tar, crushed blackberry like fruit, Licorice, moderate toast and
spice. In the mouth, the wine is moderately concentrated and f with rich, ripe Syrah
fruit and soft, round tannins. Finishes with a 25 second residual sensation. I've had
better bottles. My fifth tasting note and possibly a slightly "off" bottle, score it "92+"
'98 Draycott Burge Reserve- deep color of ink and oil. Restrained
crushed black fruits, spice, oak and full toast. Palate offers up super concentrated and
highly extracted, "pure" core fruit flavors. Would have benefited from additional airtime.
Very "Primary" right now, but has ALL the components to be spectacular! Finishes with a
45 to 50 second residual sensation. My eleventh tasting note and a real pleasure to
drink, score it "97+"
'91 Grange- Out of all the vintages
of Grange I've consumed over the years, the '91
and '82 remain my all time favorites. With close seconds going to the '86 and 1990
vintages. Anyway back to my notes. The '91 grange showed a deep, dark ruby color
leading to a full throttle bouquet suggesting chocolate, raspberry, licorice and a good
dollop of toasty new oak. Hell, I would buy this wine on nose alone! That is if I couldn't
get "Levy" to buy it for me. In the mouth, the wine is enormous but the tannins are ever
so slowly melting away! The palate mirrors the nose offering up intense raspberry,
sweet oak and dark fruit like flavors. The balance here is the key to a remarkable bottle
of wine. It also finishes very well and should drink and improve over the next ten to
fifteen years. My fifteenth tasting note, score it 97/98! Awesome juice!
'97 Godineau Bonnezeaux "Grains par Grains" Petits
Quarts- Having had my fill
of red wines; I made sure I saved room for this stunning dessert wine. An outstanding Loire
wine that is actually reminiscent of a great vintage of D'Yquem. It's balance, finish and
residual sensation were something to behold. I still can taste it…at least in recall. It was for me
an outstanding treat. My fifth tasting note, score it "99".
There you have it!